House of Deputies
The Consent Calendar (basically approving a ton of resolutions in a single batch) has been doing a lot heavy lifting at this convention and today did not disappoint. Several deputies proposed eliminating a number of resolutions from the calendar but all of their efforts were in vain and the calendar passes un-amended.
Some highlights were to concur with the House of bishops to:
- Authorize a revised Book of Occasional services (A006),
- Continue the dialogue with the Presbyterian Church (USA) (A055),
- “Continue” the work of Prayer Book Revision (A057) [there isn’t really much going here, let’s be honest],
- Continue our “wait and see” stance towards full communion with the United Methodist church (A093),
- Accept the full communion agreement with the Church of Sweden (A137), and
- Addressing inherent anti-Semitic bias in the lectionary (C030)
The first significant matter of business before the house was A048, which alters the budgeting process, including eliminating the middle-man standing committee Program, Finance, and Budget, and handing the responsibility directly to the Executive Committee to craft a proposed budget for consideration by the General Convention. After long debate and an amendment, the resolution passes.
The House also took up the matter of how to commemorate the late bishop Barbara Harris, first female bishop in the Anglican Communion (today, it was mentioned in the House of Bishops, nearly a third of all active bishops are female). Rather than a feast day for the bishop herself (who technically isn’t eligible because she died fairly recently) but instead to commemorate her consecration (similar to how we honor Florence Li-Tim Oi, first female priest and Samuel Seabury, first bishop of the Episcopal Church). The compromise (C023) passes and goes to the House of Bishops.
The House also decided that being able to have committee meetings in advance of the convention (which was done this time via special rules) via the magic of the internet turned out really well and should be a continuing feature. Surprisingly (to me anyway) there objections but this common sense measure (A138) passes anyway.
The House voted for the incoming vice President of the House of Deputies and the winner is the Rev Rachel Taber-Hamilton, a priest in Everett, WA who, according to the church website was “Raised in a multi-cultural and mixed-race heritage of First Nations (Shackan, British Columbia), Pennsylvania Dutch and Scots-Irish.”
House of Bishops
Bishop Smith (interim in Albany) tried to offer a substitute to a resolution condemning the misleading work of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (D076) which turned it into a resolution commending them instead. It was not particularly well received and was soundly rejected. However, the original one also felt a little too one-sided for the bishops, several of whom noted that simplistic resolutions did little to actually promote women’s agency or offer meaningful assistance amid complex decisions, and so the original resolution was also defeated.
The bishops then took up the revised A001, which laid out criteria for selecting GC locations which take into account the safety and well-being of all participants. This was passed with no debate by the bishops. The bishops also passed the resolution funding translations of Safe Church materials into Spanish, French, and Creole (and again, how we have not already done this??)
The bishops took up the matter of creating pilot programs in dioceses (D003) that would provide support for pension and benefits of clergy in small and historically non-white congregations. This was a big change from the original form of the resolution which called for a study on establishing a church-wide fund for the same purpose. Since the dioceses already are able to do this, the resolution is kind of moot, which the bishops agreed with and so rejected the resolution.
The bishops also voted to establish a couple of new Standing Committees (Ecumenical A142 & Formation/Ministry A037), continuing the undoing of the work of the 78th General Convention which voted to eliminate almost all of the Standing Committees in order to make us more nimble, but which mostly seemed to have just drained away institutional memory and energy around important areas of ministry.
The bishops then went back to resume their conversation on the church in the midst of political/cultural conflicts within our societies. The bishops are assigned to groups who sit together at round tables specifically to allow a free flow of conversation.
The Afternoon began as a joint session of both houses for the presentation of the proposed budget (there’s also a spreadsheet-less version ) Of course, the budget does not necessarily account for spending called for in resolution that have yet to be passed, which means they will either go unfunded or money will be moved from a different account line.
After that, the Bishop’s seemed to have decided to either take a break or meet somewhere else because their livestream went dark.
That’s where things stand at dinner time. Keep an eye out on for part 2 of today’s roundup later tonight.
image: Deputy News/Scott Gunn